Berri Backs Baabda Palace Deal as Wage Hike Fails to See Light

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The cabinet session scheduled to be held at the Baabda Palace will not tackle the wage boost dispute as parties involved in the matter failed to reach consensus, according to newspapers published on Monday.

Speaker Nabih Berri voiced his support to the deal between the Economic Committees and the General Labor Confederation that was sponsored by Prime Minister Najib Miqati at the Baabda Palace in December.

“For the first time in history, the Economic Committees and the GLC agree on the wage hike, why don’t we adopt it?” Berri told al-Joumhouria newspaper.

The agreement sets the minimum wage at LL675,000 – a sum that excludes the transportation allowance.

Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas, who is loyal to Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, told As Safir newspaper published on Monday that the wage hike will not be discussed during Monday’s cabinet session, saying that it might be tackled when the government convenes at the Grand Serail on Wednesday.

“The final decision will be taken by the cabinet,” he stated.

Last week, the price index committee, in its second consecutive meeting, failed to resolve the dispute between the Labor Minister, the Economic Committees, the GLC and the Syndicate Coordination Committee over the wage hike.

The committee is tasked with reviewing the cost of living data to determine whether the demand for higher minimum wage is valid.

Nahhas reiterated that the agreement between the GLC and the Economic Committees is “illegal,” noting that “a new proposal was formulated to legalize the deal, but they refused it.”

According to al-Joumhouria, the Labor Minister will bring up the issue during Monday’s session although it is not placed on the agenda.

Nahhas is holding onto his own proposal, which was approved by the Shura Council last week, on condition of introducing amendments to it.

The proposal suggests a 100 percent increase on the first bracket under LL1 million and 25 percent on the second bracket above LL1 million. But LL200,000 will be deducted from the wages due to the raise approved by the government in 2008, which indicates that the new minimum wage will be LL800,000.

The Syndicate Coordination Committee, that backs Nahhas’ proposal refusing the deal between the GLC and the Economic Committees, will hold a strike on Thursday after negotiations between the parties reached a dead end, al-Liwaa newspaper reported.

The dispute between the different sides mainly focuses on whether the wage hike would include the transportation allowance.

However, al-Joumhouria said that Aoun will head a meeting at Rabiyeh to discuss the matter with Nahhas and other members of his bloc.

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